Alina Stefanescu



In the car bleary-eyed. We down-shift past

a dying bird. The struggle to untangle broken

bones, steal a step forward.

Is it possible we won't believe death when it arrives?


A desert monk named Agathon

lived for 3 years with a stone in his mouth

so he might learn

to keep silent.


When we return to a space without words, it is

a relapse. Rise from bed with an image of Mom

and remember the image is all she left.

Bitter buzz of whiplash, a was a was wuzzing.


Stages of grief are closer to stadiums

where we sit and engage the world, schools

where we learn to spectate. Even if

death is not a thing which happens on stage


but a galaxy we can’t see beyond.

Maybe these are different

doors and I am seeking

a label.


Suicide: a door that closes us.

Euthanasia: a door we ask others to shut, a story

about consent & how we honor other bodies.

We consent to count less


when watching the evening news.

Quantify the end

of foreign bodies. And then

something else: Mom's death: unspeakable


as exquisite sex, unfathomable ravage.

The knot and ruin of a good life.

The bird’s wing. The beak’s crunch.

The innocent blizzard.



Alina Stefanescu was born in Romania and lives in Alabama with four incredible mammals. Find her poems and prose in recent issues of Juked, DIAGRAM, New South, Mantis, VOLT, Cloudbank, New Orleans Review Online, and others. Her debut fiction collection, Every Mask I Tried On, won the Brighthorse Books Prize and will be available in May 2018. She serves as Poetry Editor for Pidgeonholes and President of the Alabama State Poetry Society. More arcana online at or @aliner.